Nothing But The Notes

Nothing But the Notes: Sumlin’s recruiting ability unmatched by previous Arizona hires


It has been written in this space before: Kevin Sumlin brings to the Arizona football coaching job a dynamic recruiting element that is unprecedented for that position in the program’s Pac-10/12 era. Those hired in this era include Larry Smith in 1980, Dick Tomey in 1987, John Mackovic in 2001, Mike Stoops in 2004 and Rich Rodriguez in 2012. Most of them were hired because of a previous tie to Arizona (Smith was solid defensive assistant under Jim Young previously), name value (Mackovic, also an assistant under Young, was a former NFL coach and ESPN analyst) or for tactical reasons (Stoops as a defensive coordinator at powerhouse Oklahoma and Rodriguez with his renowned spread offense executed at West Virginia and Michigan). … When Tomey was hired away from Hawaii in 1987, The Arizona Daily Star labeled him “an able recruiter.” Tomey was hired by Cedric Dempsey at the time because of their background together. Dempsey almost hired him to coach Pacific in 1972 when he was the Tigers’ athletic director. Tomey was almost hired at Arizona to replace Young in 1977 but Tony Mason was hired instead. After 10 years at Hawaii, where he gained a reputation for running a competitive and clean program, Tomey made the jump from the WAC to the Pac-10, which required an upgrade with his recruiting practices. …

Sumlin’s recruiting ability at the head coaching position — proven in the hotbed of talent in Texas with Houston and Texas A&M — is a missing element of a program that has not reached the Rose Bowl. A coincidence? … Working diligently to recruit the top players who will produce winning teams and get fans into the seats is what Arizona needs. Sumlin has hit the ground sprinting in terms of recruiting after he was officially announced as the new head coach Tuesday. Pictures have circulated of him visiting Cienega quarterback Jamarye Joiner (reaffirming Joiner’s commitment after Alabama and Nebraska entered the picture) and powerhouse program Desert Pines in Las Vegas. Sumlin is shown on Twitter with Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez. The Wildcats have three players from Desert Pines, including linebacker Tony Fields II, cornerback Tony Wallace and offensive lineman Edgar Burrola — all freshmen last season. Another Las Vegas standout, receiver Jaden Mitchell of Desert Oasis High School, is a Class of 2018 recruit for Arizona. … Desert Pines also placed two players in Pima’s program last year — cornerback Jordan Diggs and lineman Traemaine Alexander Savea. Desert Pines presently has four prospects Sumlin and Arizona will likely pursue — athlete Cameron Wiley of the Class of 2019 and wide receiver Jonathan Pickett, running back Jyden King and defensive end Darnell Washington of the Class of 2020. … Sumlin was also shown on Twitter visiting Arizona commit Adam Plant Jr. in Las Vegas. Plant is a three-star defensive end from powerhouse program Bishop Gorman. …

It was alarming how some players signed by Rich Rodriguez fell off the radar, such as former Salpointe star Cam Denson and Sammy Morrison, son of former Desert Swarm member Darryl Morrison. Both played a great deal as freshmen as cornerbacks but then disappeared. Denson had 60 tackles and five interceptions in his first two seasons but then was switched to receiver in 2016. Morrison redshirted as a sophomore — an uncommon practice — and then played sparingly last season, making only four tackles. … Rodriguez’s relationship with some players was tenuous, according to at least two parents who have reached out to me. Two ways to look at it — a coach has to get after players or Rodriguez went too far with his well-noted tirades. … Denson is no longer in the program despite the ability to medically redshirt because of a foot injury last year. Rodriguez announced in October that Denson was retiring from football. Don’t be surprised if Denson winds up at a school like NAU, an FCS school, in which he can play right away to complete his senior season. … Arizona has not reconnected yet in terms of recruiting its former defensive lineman Justin Holt, a former teammate of Denson’s with Salpointe. Interesting that Arizona did not clear Holt to play because of concussion concerns but the family sought second opinions from neurologists and he was given the green light to play at Eastern Arizona last season. He did not have any issues. Holt will sign with a Division I program on Feb. 7. The question that will hang over Arizona and Rodriguez: Was it too hasty trying to make Holt retire from football? If so, why? With Rodriguez gone and Holt no longer in the program, those questions will unfortunately not be answered. …

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Fred Snowden’s name came up during the Sumlin hire because of their background of being born in the small Alabama town of Brewton, and they are pioneers for black head coaches at Arizona. Snowden is the first black coach to lead a major men’s basketball college program, hired in 1972. Sumlin is Arizona’s first black head football coach. The first black coach at Arizona was track and field coach Willie Williams, hired at only 28 years old in 1969 by athletic director Dick Clausen. Williams was the first black head coach hired in any sport by a major college program. “There will be some people on the other side — we do have our problems right now — who don’t think that this (hiring) is right,” Williams told the Tucson Citizen after he was introduced as the head coach. “This is another step in weaving the black man into the mainstream of society.” Williams and Snowden helped make it possible for Sumlin to be a head coach today. … Sumlin is one of 13 black head football coaches at the FBS level. The Pac-12 has the most with three — Sumlin, ASU’s Herm Edwards and Stanford’s David Shaw. Former Arizona offensive coordinator Dino Babers, who coached under Dick Tomey, is one who coaches at Syracuse. Former Arizona linebacker Charlie Camp was hired to coach linebackers by Texas-San Antonio coach Frank Wilson, who happens to be black. The rumor mill had Camp being courted by Sumlin to join his staff at Arizona, but it appears that Camp intends to stay with Wilson at UTSA. …

Former UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin is rumored to be a top candidate to fill the same position in Kevin Sumlin’s staff (YouTube video capture)

Sean Miller’s freshman 3-point shooting record in a game at Pitt was broken by Parker Stewart on Wednesday. His seven 3-pointers eclipsed Miller’s previous record of six, achieved in the 1987-88 season against St. Francis (Pa.). … The Lute Olson Award is given annually to a player who has played multiple seasons of Division I college basketball. This year’s candidates include ASU seniors Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II. Arizona’s Allonzo Trier is also a candidate. Wouldn’t it be odd if an ASU player won the Lute Olson Award over an Arizona player? … Former Washington and UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin is being reported as a likely hire by Sumlin to coach Arizona’s defensive secondary. Martin coached five defensive backs at UCLA under Jim Mora who are not taller than 6-foot but their skill and technique taught by Martin allowed them to contend with taller receivers. They are Randall Goforth, Fabian Moreau, Jaleel Wadood, Marcus Rios and Tahaan Goodman. Goforth, Moreau and Rios are in the NFL, Goforth with Philadelphia, Moreau with Washington and Rios with Denver. Wadood and Goodman played extensively for the Bruins in their four years learning from Martin. …

Stanford coach Jerod Haase will attempt to beat Arizona today once again in his basketball life. Haase has faced the Wildcats in marquee matchups dating to his freshman season at California in 1992-93. It was Haase who took a charge from Khalid Reeves with only 7.3 seconds left when the Golden Bears upset Arizona 74-71 in Berkeley, Calif., in 1993. The loss snapped a 19-game winning streak by the Wildcats. “When Haase stepped in and took the charge, that was the game,” Jason Kidd told reporters after the game. We knew that Khalid likes to lean in and try to draw a foul, but Jerod stood in and the ref saw it all. It was a good call.” … Haase went on to play three years at Kansas and faced Arizona twice deep in the NCAA tournament. In the 1996 Sweet Sixteen against the Wildcats in Denver, Haase played a major part in the Jayhawks eliminating the Wildcats in an 83-80 win. He made four 3-pointers in the game, including one with 36 seconds remaining that put Kansas ahead 81-79. Haase finished with 16 points and an incredible 10 rebounds — a sign of hustle and gritty play at the guard position. Miles Simon took the blame for biting on Jacques Vaughn’s penetration, allowing Haase to take an open look. “I left him open in the corner,” Simon told reporters. “He had hit a couple already. He made the big one.” … Simon got the upper-hand the following season when Arizona upset Haase and No. 1 Kansas in a Sweet 16 game en route to the Wildcats’ national title. Haase played in that game with a broken wrist and sore back. He was a non-factor in only 14 minutes. He was described as taking the loss very hard, crying in the locker room. If a team is a reflection of its coach, Arizona can count on Stanford being crafty, tough and unyielding. The same can be said about Arizona with Miller as coach. He played much the same way at Pitt as Haase did at Kansas, only Miller was a point guard and Haase was a shooting guard. Today’s game should be a fun one starting with the head coaches. …


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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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